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TITLE
How Macleod of Assynt was tricked out of Altnacealgach
EXTERNAL ID
AB_ESSIE_STEWART_02
PLACENAME
Altnacealgach
DISTRICT
Assynt
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
SUTHERLAND: Assynt
DATE OF RECORDING
2008
PERIOD
2000s
CREATOR
Essie Stewart
SOURCE
Am Baile
ASSET ID
1174
KEYWORDS
travelling folk
travellers
lifestyles
gypsies
audios

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Essie Stewart is a traditional storyteller from Sutherland and one of the last people to have taken part in the traditional 'Summer Walking' of the travelling families. She is the grand-daughter of Ailidh Dall Stewart (1882-1968), one of the greatest Gaelic storytellers. Essie tells her stories in both English and Gaelic.

In this audio extract, recorded at the Ullapool Book Festival in 2008, Essie tells the story of how Macleod of Assynt was tricked out of Altnacealgach.

'I'm going to start off with just a little bit of reminiscing, and you know, as I was driving up here yesterday I was thinking back to, you know, fifty years ago when I used to walk that road with a horse and cart. And we were coming whizzing up in a car, with, you know, a heater blasting if you want, or air conditioning - changed days. Also, what I would like to touch on briefly is things that are lost and place names. And I regret, very much, and I'm sure a lot of my generation do too, is not having listened more closely to what was being said, what was being told to us. And you know, the Bodach, my grandfather, as we would be approaching Altnacealgach he would say, 'Do ruig suin Altnacealgach fhathast?' 'Have we reached Altnacealgach yet?' No. And then he would turn and he would say to me, 'Did I ever tell you the story of how Altnacealgach got its name?' Something now, I heard every time we passed Altnacealgach. But anyway, it's a lovely story and this is, and I'm sure those of you natives will know the story and maybe different versions, but this is how the Bodach told me that story.

Way back in, you know, in the time of the clans we had Macleod of Assynt and we had the Rosses Balnagowan. And Altnacealgach was a bowl of contention between Macleod of Assynt and Ross Balnagowan. And Charles Ross Balnagowan staunchly maintained that Altnacealgach was his. Now, at Altnacealgach, the march is there, and by march I mean the boundary; the boundary between Ross and Sutherland is at Altna - just south of where the hotel used to be. And it's still there today and, of course, with the regions now I don't even know where Sutherland starts and Ross-shire - [Laughter] But anyway, as I say, Ross Balnagowan maintained that Altnacealgach was his, Macleod of Assynt said no, that Altnacealgach was his. And they decided to settle it once and for all. And a day and a date was set. And Macleod came with his clansmen from Assynt and Ross Balnagowan came from the other side with his clansmen. And they're standing there at the burn. And Macleod is saying, 'We are standing on Sutherland soil.' Charles Ross is saying, 'No we're not; we are standing on the Ross-shire - ' And they argued. And Charles Ross said, 'No I can tell you,' he said, 'categorically that I am standing on Ross-shire soil.'

That morning, before he left Balnagowan, he'd filled his boots with soil! [Laughter] So, he wasn't lying; he was standing on Ross-shire soil. So, Ladies and Gentlemen, that's the way, how, how Altnacealgach, got its name - cealgach [meaning crafty, cunning etc] Macleod of Assynt was tricked out of Altnacealgach because Charles Ross Balnagowan filled his boots with soil before he left. [Laughter]'

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How Macleod of Assynt was tricked out of Altnacealgach

SUTHERLAND: Assynt

2000s

travelling folk; travellers; lifestyles; gypsies; audios

Am Baile

Am Baile: Essie Stewart

Essie Stewart is a traditional storyteller from Sutherland and one of the last people to have taken part in the traditional 'Summer Walking' of the travelling families. She is the grand-daughter of Ailidh Dall Stewart (1882-1968), one of the greatest Gaelic storytellers. Essie tells her stories in both English and Gaelic.<br /> <br /> In this audio extract, recorded at the Ullapool Book Festival in 2008, Essie tells the story of how Macleod of Assynt was tricked out of Altnacealgach.<br /> <br /> 'I'm going to start off with just a little bit of reminiscing, and you know, as I was driving up here yesterday I was thinking back to, you know, fifty years ago when I used to walk that road with a horse and cart. And we were coming whizzing up in a car, with, you know, a heater blasting if you want, or air conditioning - changed days. Also, what I would like to touch on briefly is things that are lost and place names. And I regret, very much, and I'm sure a lot of my generation do too, is not having listened more closely to what was being said, what was being told to us. And you know, the Bodach, my grandfather, as we would be approaching Altnacealgach he would say, 'Do ruig suin Altnacealgach fhathast?' 'Have we reached Altnacealgach yet?' No. And then he would turn and he would say to me, 'Did I ever tell you the story of how Altnacealgach got its name?' Something now, I heard every time we passed Altnacealgach. But anyway, it's a lovely story and this is, and I'm sure those of you natives will know the story and maybe different versions, but this is how the Bodach told me that story. <br /> <br /> Way back in, you know, in the time of the clans we had Macleod of Assynt and we had the Rosses Balnagowan. And Altnacealgach was a bowl of contention between Macleod of Assynt and Ross Balnagowan. And Charles Ross Balnagowan staunchly maintained that Altnacealgach was his. Now, at Altnacealgach, the march is there, and by march I mean the boundary; the boundary between Ross and Sutherland is at Altna - just south of where the hotel used to be. And it's still there today and, of course, with the regions now I don't even know where Sutherland starts and Ross-shire - [Laughter] But anyway, as I say, Ross Balnagowan maintained that Altnacealgach was his, Macleod of Assynt said no, that Altnacealgach was his. And they decided to settle it once and for all. And a day and a date was set. And Macleod came with his clansmen from Assynt and Ross Balnagowan came from the other side with his clansmen. And they're standing there at the burn. And Macleod is saying, 'We are standing on Sutherland soil.' Charles Ross is saying, 'No we're not; we are standing on the Ross-shire - ' And they argued. And Charles Ross said, 'No I can tell you,' he said, 'categorically that I am standing on Ross-shire soil.' <br /> <br /> That morning, before he left Balnagowan, he'd filled his boots with soil! [Laughter] So, he wasn't lying; he was standing on Ross-shire soil. So, Ladies and Gentlemen, that's the way, how, how Altnacealgach, got its name - cealgach [meaning crafty, cunning etc] Macleod of Assynt was tricked out of Altnacealgach because Charles Ross Balnagowan filled his boots with soil before he left. [Laughter]'